Presentation on theme: "Cambridge IGCSE History The 20th Century: International Relations since 1919 To what extent was the League of Nations a success? Dr. John Levan Bernhart,"— Presentation transcript:
Cambridge IGCSE History The 20th Century: International Relations since 1919 To what extent was the League of Nations a success? Dr. John Levan Bernhart, Ph.D.
Framing Questions What were the strengths and weaknesses of the League’s structure and organization? What was the work of the League’s agencies? What was the League’s humanitarian work? How far did weaknesses in the League’s organization make failure inevitable? How successful was the League in the 1920s? What were the League’s successes and failures in peacekeeping during the 1920s? What was the impact of the World Depression on the work of the League after 1929? How far did the Depression make the work of the League more difficult? How successful was the League in the 1930s? What were the failures of the League in the 1930s, including Manchuria and Abyssinia.
T HE L EAGUE OF N ATIONS
Woodrow Wilson—28 th President of the USA Woodrow Wilson, a conservative Liberal historian and political scientist, supported the interests of the industrial elite by co-opting the progressive movement. In The State (1889), Wilson wrote that “in politics nothing radically novel may safely be attempted.” Wilson urged “slow and gradual change,” and he was “generally hostile” to labor. He thought Populists (farmers and workers hoping to improve their lives) had “crude and ignorant minds.” Before becoming the twenty- eighth President of the USA, Wilson served as President of Princeton University and Governor of New Jersey. W OODROW W ILSON
Wilson was openly sexist, believing that women “must supplement man’s life.” Wilson defended the historical enslavement of Africans in the American South, claiming Southerners had “absolutely nothing to apologize for.” Wilson was openly racist towards Italians, Hungarians, and Poles, believing in the superiority of the “English race.” Wilson was tyrannical towards workers who demanded more than his paternalism, hoping to stamp out Bolshevism. Wilson on ‘Open Door’ Imperialism “Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process….the doors of the nations which are closed must be battered down.” (1907) “Our industries have expanded to such a point that they will burst their jackets if they cannot find a free outlet to the markets of the world. Our domestic markets no longer suffice. We need foreign markets.” (1912) I support “the righteous conquest of foreign markets.” (1914)
Wilson’s League of Nations The consortium of European great powers, with its secret diplomacy and colonial barriers to trade, frustrated Wilson. Wilson demanded a League of Nations, a community of independent states in which there would be public negotiation of open covenants. Through the League of Nations, disagreement would be resolved through peaceful, democratic means and disarmament would be possible. The British and French naturally opposed Wilson. After the Bolsheviks released the secret wartime treaties in which the Allies had divided up colonial territory, Britain and France accepted the idea of a League of Nations as a means of damage limitation. Britain and France expanded their empires after the war under the guise of the mandate system of the League of Nations.
While Wilson succeeded in winning the support of Britain and France for the League of Nations, he was unable to persuade his domestic political opponents. The US Senate refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. Consequently, the USA did not join the League of Nations. Without the participation of the USA, the League of Nations was without purpose, almost a complete failure (with the exception of fact-finding missions and statistics gathering). The League’s one success was the peaceful settlement of a minor dispute between Finland and Sweden over the Åland Islands, Finnish territory inhabited by a Swedish-speaking population. H ANDLING OF THE M ATTER IN THE L EAGUE OF N ATIONS F. R ACKWITZ (1931)
A Pro-Corporate Alternative to Bolshevism “The League of Nations has its roots in a popular support far deeper and firmer than shifting governments. To the peasant in France, with the horror of the war seared in his memory, it represents the symbol of a new hope. To the worker, the League's labor office, under the leadership of Albert Thomas, is the promise of a better fortune. The League stands for disarmament, for peace, for international justice, for the protection of backward peoples, for a better standard of living, for the relief of suffering, for the fight against disease, and for all the other forward-looking policies bound up in the longings of mankind for a better world—policies which the people everywhere in Europe, as distinguished from their governments and leaders, are unwaveringly supporting. The people understand the League; at least they know what it aims to accomplish.” —Raymond B. Fosdick (1920) R AYMOND B. F OSDICK, U NDER - S ECRETARY G ENERAL OF THE L EAGUE OF N ATIONS AND H EAD OF J OHN D. R OCKEFELLER, J R.’ S B UREAU OF S OCIAL H YGIENE
Lenin’s “Thieves’ Kitchen” “The USSR is not a member of the League of Nations and does not participate in its work, because the USSR is not prepared to share the responsibility for the imperialist policy of the League of Nations, for the ‘mandates’ which are distributed by the League for the exploitation and oppression of the colonial countries, for the war preparations and military alliances which are covered and sanctified by the League, preparations which must inevitably lead to imperialist war. The USSR does not participate in the work of the League because the USSR is fighting with all its energy against all preparations for imperialist war. The USSR is not prepared to become a part of that camouflage for imperialist machinations represented by the League of Nations. The League is the rendezvous of the imperialist leaders who settle their business there behind the scenes. The subjects about which the League speaks officially, are nothing but empty phrases intended to deceive the workers. The business carried on by the imperialist ring- leaders behind the scenes, that is the actual work of imperialism which the eloquent speakers of the League of Nations hypocritically cloak.” —Josef Stalin (13 November 1927)
Prospects of the League of Nations “O VERWEIGHTED,” P UNCH (26 M ARCH 1919) P RESIDENT W ILSON : “H ERE ’ S YOUR OLIVE BRANCH. N OW GET BUSY.” D OVE OF P EACE : “O F COURSE I WANT TO PLEASE EVERYBODY ; BUT ISN ’ T THIS A BIT THICK ?” “T HE F LOWER,” T HE S TAR (11 N OVEMBER 1919) D AVID L OW
The Covenant of the League of Nations The League’s member states agreed to abide by the 26 Articles of the Covenant, which required members to uphold the Treaty of Versailles, to disarm “to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety,” and to “respect and preserve as against external aggression” the territorial integrity of other members. Additionally, members were required to submit complaints for arbitration or judicial inquiry before going to war. The Covenant, however, did not provide the League with the power to enforce its decisions. W ILSON R EADING D RAFT OF THE C OVENANT (14 F EBRUARY 1919)
The League was limited to issuing condemnations and economic sanctions that in practice proved impossible to implement. Particularly, France and Japan were critical of the Covenant. France, fearing Germany, wanted the League to maintain an international army to enforce its decisions. Britain, an imperial rival of the French, did not support the French position, and the Constitution of the USA allowed only the US Congress to declare war, so the USA rejected the French proposal as well. Japan sought a clause upholding the principle of racial equality, and a vote on a motion to support the “equality of nations and the just treatment of their nationals” passed by an 11 to 8 margin. The USA objected strongly to the idea of racial equality, demanding that the rights of the minority voters trumped those of the majority. Officially, the League of Nations did not support racial equality.
The League in the Face of Militarism B ERNARD P ATRIDGE, “M ORAL S UASION ” P UNCH (28 J ULY 1920) T HE R ABBIT : “M Y OFFENSIVE EQUIPMENT BEING PRACTICALLY NIL, IT REMAINS FOR ME TO FASCINATE HIM WITH THE POWER OF MY EYE.” C AREY O RR, “R EAR V IEW ” L ITERARY D IGEST (30 A UGUST 1919)
The Structure of the League of Nations Permanent Court of International Justice —decided border disputes —provided legal advice —had no enforcement power International Labor Organization —included all member states —promoted “fair and humane conditions of labor for men, women, and children” —the USA joined the ILO in 1934 Assembly —the annual conference of all League member states —decisions had to be unanimous —decided on the organization’s policies Council —met four times per year and during crises —four permanent members and four (later nine) non-permanent members —settled international disputes —each permanent member had a veto Secretariat —carried out the day-to-day work of the League —wrote annual reports on the work of the League Conferences, Committees, and Commissions —created to address specific issues, including health, slavery, refugees, and the oversight of mandates
The Commission for Refugees The League’s Commission for Refugees was led by Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen. WWI had created 1.5 million refugees and 500 thousand prisoners of war in need of repatriation or resettlement. By 1923, the Commission for Refugees had helped 425,000 prisoners of war to return home to 26 different countries. The Commission for Refugees established camps in Turkey in 1922 to aid the country with an ongoing refugee crisis, helping to prevent disease and hunger. It also established the Nansen passport for stateless people. F RIDTJOF N ANSEN E ATING WITH O RPHANS (K UMAJRI, A RMENIA, 23 J UNE 1925)
The Committee for the Study of the Legal Status of Women The League’s Committee for the Study of the Legal Status of Women was formed in 1935 because of pressure from women’s organizations demanding an international treaty recognizing equal rights for women. The committee met twice (in April 1938 and in January 1939), before being disbanded. E LEANOR R OOSEVELT AND S HIRLEY T EMPLE (1938)
The Committee on Intellectual Cooperation The League’s Committee on Intellectual Cooperation was led by French philosopher Henri Bergson. The work of the Committee on Intellectual Cooperation included: inquiring into the conditions of intellectual life; assisting countries where intellectual life was endangered; creating national committees for intellectual cooperation; cooperating with international intellectual organizations; protecting intellectual property; facilitating inter-university cooperation; coordinating bibliographical work and international interchange of publications; encouraging international cooperation in archaeological research; and promoting the cinema as a means for international communication. H ENRI B ERGSON
The Economic and Financial Organization The League’s Economic and Financial Organization sought to resolve the economical and financial problems created by WWI. It facilitated the circulation of goods and funds, assisting Austria, Hungary, Greece, and Bulgaria. It collected statistics on double taxation, tax evasion, the treatment of foreign workers and enterprises, international industrial agreements, trade policy, restrictions on imports and exports and indirect protectionism, and smuggling generally as well as the illegal manufacture and sale of alcohol particularly. The Economic and Financial Organization advocated the unification of customs nomenclature, bills of exchange, statistical methods, and veterinary medicines. G ERMAN W OMAN B UYING A C ABBAGE WITH A B ASKET OF B ANK N OTES ( C. 1920)
The Health Organization The League’s Health Organization consisted of the Health Bureau, containing permanent officials of the League, the General Advisory Council, an executive section consisting of medical experts, and the Health Committee, whose purpose was to conduct inquiries, to oversee the operation of the League’s health work, and to prepare reports to be presented to the Council. It focused on ending leprosy, and it started an international campaign to exterminate mosquitoes to fight yellow fever and malaria. The Health Organization also worked successfully with the government of the USSR to prevent typhus epidemics. M ISSION OF L ATIN A MERICAN H EALTH O FFICERS TO THE L EAGUE OF N ATIONS (1924)
The International Labor Organization The League’s International Labor Organization was directed by French socialist Albert Thomas. Each League member sent a four-person delegation to the ILO: a representative of the working class, a business representative, and two government representatives. The ILO successfully restricted the addition of lead to paint but was less successful at convincing members to adopt an eight-hour workday and a forty-eight-hour work week. The ILO lobbied with little success to end child labor, to increase the rights of women in the work-place, and to make shipowners liable for accidents. A LBERT T HOMAS AND S HIPOWNERS (G ENOA, J UNE 1920)
The Organization for Communication and Transit The League’s Organization for Communication and Transit held conferences in Barcelona in 1921 and in Geneva in 1923 to conclude conventions on the international regulation of maritime ports, waterways, and railroads. The Organization for Communication and Transit provided technical assistance to the League’s member states as well as help with the arbitration of disputes concerning transit. R EPORT ON P ASSPORT C ONFERENCE (1926)
The Permanent Central Opium Board The League’s Permanent Central Opium Board supervised the collection of statistics necessary to implement the control of the production, manufacture, trade, and retailing of opium and its by- products, creating a system of compulsory import certificates and export authorizations for the legal international trade in narcotics. A DVISORY C OMMITTEE ON THE T RAFFIC OF O PIUM (1938)
The Permanent Mandate Commission The League’s Permanent Mandate Commission protected British and French colonialism, rationalizing imperialism with the racist argument that “advanced nations” had a duty to exercise guardianship over primitive people unable “to stand alone.” The mandates included the former territories of the Ottoman Empire, the former German colonies, and territories in South- west Africa and the South Pacific, and the League also governed the Free City of Danzig (Gdańsk) and the Saar. T HE M ANDATE S YSTEM ( C. 1926)
The Slavery Commission (and the Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Women and Children) The League’s Slavery Commission sought to eradicate slavery and slave trading across the world, and fought forced prostitution. The Slavery Commission pressed for the end of slavery in the League’s mandates, and it worked with Liberia to abolish forced labor and intertribal slavery and Tanganyika to reduce the death rate of railroad construction workers from 55 to 4 percent. The Slavery Commission kept records on slavery, prostitution, and the trafficking of women and children. Partly because of League pressure, Afghanistan abolished slavery in 1923, Iraq in 1924, Nepal in 1926, Transjordan and Persia in 1929, Bahrain in 1937, and Ethiopia in The League, however, failed to entirely eradicate slavery. F EMALE C ONVICT W ORK C REW (D AR ES S ALAAM, T ANGANYIKA, C. 1927)
Members of the League of Nations Sixty-two nations and the British Empire were represented at the League of Nations between 1920 and 1946; yearly membership, however, fluctuated as nations joined, withdrew, or were annexed (ceased to be nations). The USA did not join the League but joined the International Labor Organization in Germany joined the League in 1926 but withdrew in The USSR joined the League in 1934 but was expelled in Britain and France (including Free France) were the only permanent Council members who served from 1920 to The other permanent Council members were Japan (1920 to 1933), Italy (1920 to 1937), Lebanon (1926 to 1933), Germany (1926 to 1933), and the USSR (1934 to 1939). The limited participation of the USA, Germany, and the USSR weakened the League, making failure inevitable.
The Gap in the Bridge L EONARD R AVEN -H ILL, P UNCH (10 D ECEMBER 1919)
P EACE -K EEPING AND D ISARMAMENT IN THE 1920 S
In the 1920s, the League of Nations was involved in settling territorial disputes. The Åland Islands, populated by a Swedish-speaking people, are in the Baltic Sea, between Sweden and Finland. In 1809, Russia defeated Sweden in the Finish War, claiming the Åland Islands. In 1917, during the Bolshevik Revolution, Finland declared its independence from Russia, but the Åland Islanders wanted to join Sweden. By 1920, the dispute had escalated to the point that there was danger of war. In June 1921, the League T HE Å LAND I SLANDS intervened, deciding the Åland Islands were to remain a de- militarized part of Finland. With Sweden’s reluctant agreement, this became the first international agreement concluded directly through the League.
After WWI, Poland claimed Upper Silesia, a Prussian territory. The Treaty of Versailles called for a plebiscite to resolve the conflict between Germany and Poland. Before the plebiscite was held, Poles in Upper Silesia launched two uprisings (in 1919 and in 1920).A third uprising took place after the 20 March 1921 plebiscite, in which 59.6 percent of the population voted to unite with Germany. The League intervened, deciding, in May 1922, to divide Upper Silesia, giving most of the land to Germany but the majority of the U PPER S ILESIA region’s mineral resources and much of its industry to Poland. Bitter resentment was expressed in Germany, but the treaty was still ratified by both countries.
After Poland and Lithuania became independent nations during WWI, Bolshevik Russia attempted to regain its Baltic territories, launching the Lithuanian-Soviet War (December 1918 to August 1919) and the Polish- Soviet War (February 1919 to March 1921). When Lithuania made peace with Russia, Moscow recognized Lithuanian sovereignty over Wilno, its traditional capital but a city with a majority Polish population. Poland, however, seized Wilno, launching the Polish-Lithuanian War (April 1919 to November 1920). The League negotiated a cease-fire, requesting Poland to withdraw from Wilno. Poland refused, creating the Republic of Central Lithuania, a puppet state it soon annexed. Lithuania also refused to be governed by the League, seizing the German port city of Memel in January On 14 March 1924, the League acted to normalize the situation, ceding Wilno to Poland and Memel to Lithuania. M EMEL (K LAIPĖDA ) AND W ILNO (V ILNIUS )
After WWI, the boundaries of Albania were left undecided. In September 1921, Yugoslav forces confronted Albanian tribesmen in northern Albania. In November 1921, the League decided that the frontiers of Albania should be the same as they had been in 1913, with three minor changes that favored Yugoslavia. Yugoslav forces withdrew a few weeks later, albeit under protest. A LBANIA
In 1923, the Conference of Ambassadors of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers sent an Italian delegation to mark out the boundary between Albania and Greece. While conducting the work, Italian General Enrico Tellini and four of his assistants were ambushed and killed on 24 August Italy demanded an investigation and 50 million Greek lire in reparations, occupying the Greek island of Corfu. Greece appealed to the League, arguing that Italy had broken the Covenant. The identities of the murderers were C ORFU never discovered, but the League and the Conference of Ambassadors ordered Greece to pay Italy the 50 million lire, after which Italy withdrew from Corfu.
Britain, who had been awarded a League of Nations mandate over Iraq in 1920, claimed Mosul belonged to Iraq; Turkey claimed the province as part of its historic heartland. In 1924, the League investigated, concluding that the Kurdish people of Mosul did not want to be part of either Turkey or Iraq, but if they had to choose, they would pick Iraq. Turkey appealed the finding to the Permanent Court of International Justice, which also ruled in favor of Iraq. Britain, Iraq and Turkey ratified a treaty on 5 June 1926 M OSUL that mostly followed the decision of the League, assigning Mosul to Iraq.
On 19 October 1925, a Bulgarian soldier killed a Greek soldier at the Belasitsa border crossing. Greece demanded the punishment of those responsible, an official apology, and 2 million French francs in reparations, occupying Petrich to enforce its demands, killing more than 50 Bulgarian civilians in the process. Bulgaria appealed to the League. The League ordered a cease-fire, Greek troops to withdraw from Bulgaria, and Greece to pay Bulgaria £45 thousand. Both countries accepted the decision, although Greece complained about the B ULGARIA disparity between its treatment and that of Italy in the Corfu Incident of 1923, since the decision showed that there were two different rules in the League, one for the Great Powers, like Italy, and another for smaller nations, like Greece. Bulgaria Greece Incident at Petrich / War of the Stray Dog
In 1928, oil was discovered in the foothills of the Andes at the western extremity of the Chaco, an area taken by Bolivia from Paraguay in the 1880s. Paraguay reacted to the discovery of oil in its occupied territory with violent indignation, not being prepared to lose its opportunity for economic development. Royal Dutch Shell backed Paraguay and Standard Oil supported Bolivia. An exchange of sporadic raids and skirmishes commenced. The League of Nations carried on a series of desultory negotiations but was unable to prevent a B OLIVIA disastrous war breaking out in Paraguay won through war what it could not win through negotiations, albeit at great cost.
A significant amount of the League’s time and energy in the 1920s was devoted to disarmament, even though many member governments were uncertain that extensive disarmament was possible or even desirable. The League set up a special commission in 1926 to prepare for a World Disarmament Conference, which was held in the 1930s. In preparation for the World Disarmament Conference, France and the USA sponsored the Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed by Germany on 27 August 1928 and by most other nations soon thereafter. The Kellogg-Briand Pact renounced the use of war and called for the peaceful settlement of disputes. A RISTIDE B RIAND, M YRON M ERRICK, AND F RANK B ILLINGS K ELLOGG (P ARIS, 1928)
“P LEASSE, M ISS, I HAF LEARNT DER LESSON. M AY I GET DOWN ?” D AVID L OW, T HE S TAR (26 M ARCH 1925)
The World Disarmament Conference fell apart because Germany demanded the right of parity with the other Great Powers. When the League refused Germany’s demand, Germany withdrew from the League of Nations on 14 October T HE C ONFERENCE E XCUSES I TSELF D AVID L OW E VENING S TANDARD (23 M AY 1934) “M Y FRIENDS, WE HAVE FAILED. W E JUST COULDN ’ T CONTROL YOUR WARLIKE PASSIONS.”
S IGNS OF R ETURNING P ROSPERITY, D AVID L OW, E VENING S TANDARD (9 O CTOBER 1933) A RMS R ACKET : “A GRATIFYING INCREASE IN EMPLOYMENT IS REPORTED FROM THE ARMAMENT AND ALLIED INDUSTRIES.” S TATESMAN : “W ELL DONE, SIR. E NGLAND IS PROUD OF YOU !”
T HE G REAT S LUMP AND THE R ISE OF F ASCISM
The world economic breakdown ( ) had a profound effect on the history of international relations in the twentieth century, causing The Times (London) to editorialize, “Next to war, unemployment has been the most widespread, the most insidious, and the most corroding malady of our generation: it is the specific social disease of Western civilization in our time” (23 January 1943). The epicenter of economic breakdown was the USA (29 October 1929), and the breakdown spread worldwide wherever the economy was based on market transactions (thus, the USSR avoided it). The Great Slump gave rise to fascism in Germany, Italy, and Japan, which led to WWII. “Self-correcting” economic fluctuations of various lengths, often very severe, are integral parts of all capitalist economies. A trade cycle of boom and bust occurred every 7 to 11 years in the nineteenth century, while, in the 1920s, Russian economist N. D. Kondratiev identified a longer series of waves of 50 to 60 years in the capitalist economy. The world economy was due for a downturn after WWI, but the downturn was so severe that the capitalist system appeared to have collapsed:
the cycle of growth and contraction appeared to break, as the economy entered a permanent, vicious, downward spiral, despite accelerating technological progress (notably, in plastics, in the cinema, and in magazine publishing). The US economy was the cause of the Great Slump and its principal victim, but the political roots of the economic breakdown were European. The reparations imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, finally fixed at 132 billion Gold Marks in 1921, was fantastically high, leading to endless debates and periodic crises and settlements under American auspices, since the USA linked the reparations issue to Britain and France’s wartime debts to the USA— almost as crippling as Germany’s reparations bill. Moreover, Germany was kept weak by European demands that reparations be paid in cash, requiring Germany to borrow money, rather than in the production of goods that would have strengthened the German economy.
Even though the USA was the center of the global economy in the 1920s, the US economy did not much need the rest of the world, so the USA did not act as a global stabilizer. The USA did not need to import capital or labor, and it imported fewer commodities as it industrialized, with the exception of some vital raw materials. US exports, such as Hollywood movies, contributed little to the US economy. In the USA, the expansion of consumer credit was used to increase demand artificially and temporarily. Automobile purchasers alone owed $1,400 million out of a total personal indebtedness of $6,500 million in short- and medium-term loans. Rich Americans turned to speculation to increase their wealth, and speculation resulted in a stock market crash, a bank run, and a depression. Automobile production in the USA halved between 1929 and 1931; the production of gramophone records virtually ceased. Globally, in the 1920s, wages did not rise with increases in productivity, resulting in a growing wealth gap, weak demand, and overproduction.
Economic growth during the Great Slump did not cease; it slowed down. From 1913 to 1938, world industrial production grew by 80 percent—half of what it had grown from 1888 to Per capita economic growth in the USA from 1913 to 1938 was only 0.8 percent per year. While unemployment in the Great Slump exceeded one-third of the workforce, for more than half of the population, standards of living improved. The one important negative indicator, besides unemployment, which grew in the Great Slump, was globalization. The integration of the world economy stagnated or regressed. Migration, international capital investment and lending, and world trade were reduced to a trickle, as each state did its best to protect its economy against threats from outside, against a world economy that was visibly in major trouble. The immediate post-war boom of 1919 collapsed in British unemployment in the 1920s never fell much below 10 percent. In Europe in the 1920s, prosperity remained elusive.
Most European nations (and Japan) stabilized their economies between 1922 and 1926 by deflating their currencies, returning to sound financing and the gold standard. But in Germany, by 1923, the currency had fallen to one million millionth of its 1913 value. This meant private savings in Germany disappeared, making the Germany economy entirely reliant on foreign loans and particularly vulnerable when the USA stopped providing those loans during the Great Slump. The devastation of the lower and middle classes in central Europe made them ready for fascism. By 1924, only the USA, with an unemployment rate of 4 percent, appeared to be growing, but this growth was deceptive as American farmers and producers of raw materials suffered catastrophe as prices dropped significantly. Moreover, American industries stockpiled commodities, as demand could not keep pace with the capacity to produce. From 1924 to 1929, unemployment averaged between 10 and 12 percent in Britain, Germany, and Sweden and between 17 and 18 percent in Denmark and Norway.
From 1929 to 1931, American and German production fell by a third. There was a crisis in primary production, both of foodstuffs and of raw materials, as their prices, no longer kept up by building stocks as before, went into free fall. The price of rice plummeted. The price of tea fell by two-thirds; silk by three-quarters. The US market for Japanese silk disappeared. Farmers dependent on the market were ruined. In Brazil, the price of coffee fell so low that steam railroad engines switched from burning coal to burning coffee. World trade fell by 60 percent from 1929 to For workers, the result of the Great Slump at its height ( ) was unemployment: 22 to 23 percent in Britain and Belgium, 24 percent in Sweden, 27 percent in the USA, 29 percent in Austria, 31 percent in Norway, 32 percent in Denmark, and 44 percent in Germany. And from 1933 to 1938, only Nazi Germany eliminated unemployment, which remained between 16 and 20 percent in other nations. While the majority of the workforce was employed and was getting better off, the political systems of the industrialized countries suffered from the central, traumatic impact of mass unemployment.
The Great Slump radicalized the middle and lower classes politically. The German Communist Party grew almost as fast as the Nazi Party in the months before Adolf Hitler’s accession to power. The Communists, however, made the mistake of underestimating the danger of the far right, turning their attacks against the liberal left instead, allowing fascism to triumph in Italy, Japan, and Germany. The Great Slump traumatized the upper classes politically because solutions could not be found within the framework of liberal economics. Social considerations trumped economic considerations. To meet immediate, short-term crises, capitalist ruling classes had to undermine the long-term basis of the world economy. Economic liberalism was abandoned. Free trade was abandoned. Tariff barriers were raised. Farmers were given subsidies. Full employment became a policy goal, as the upper classes adopted the argument of British economist John Maynard Keynes that demand coming from the incomes of fully employed workers would have the most stimulating effect on depressed economies (while also preventing explosive social movements).
Politically, the Great Slump led to changes in government. In the USA, the Republicans fell to the Democrats. In Britain, the Labour Party was ousted. The almost simultaneous victory of fascist, nationalist, warlike, and actively aggressive regimes in two major military powers—Japan (1931) and Germany (1933)—constituted the most far-reaching and sinister political consequence of the Great Slump. Fascism was transformed from an Italian movement into a world movement and a world danger by the Great Slump. Fascism, or corporatism, formed the basis of Benito Mussolini’s Italy (1922 to 1943). Italian corporatism was a top-down model of state control over the economy, which was collectively managed by employers, workers, and state officials by formal mechanisms at the national level. Corporatism was totalitarian, supposedly not as a coercive system, because it incorporated every divergent interest into the state. Italian fascism was, and for a long time remained, an anomaly among radical right-wing movements in its lack of interest in racism, until it fell into line with Nazi Germany in Socially, Italian fascism provided a new version of the triumphant counter-revolution.
Mussolini (1932): “The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State— a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people…. Fascism attacks the whole complex of democratic ideologies and rejects them both in their theoretical premises and in their applications or practical manifestations. Fascism denies that the majority, through the mere fact of being a majority, can rule human societies; it denies that this majority can govern by means of a periodical consultation; it affirms the irremediable, fruitful and beneficent inequality of men, who cannot be leveled by such a mechanical and extrinsic fact as universal suffrage…. The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organized in their respective associations, circulate within the State….
…Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor in the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism—born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it.” Mussolini inspired Adolf Hitler, and Hitler never failed to acknowledge Italian inspiration and priority. During Germany’s hyperinflation, on 8 November 1923, Hitler led an abortive coup in Munich—the Beer Hall Putsch—resulting in his arrest and imprisonment. German business interests did not support Hitler’s extremely anti-Jewish form of fascism, preferring a more orthodox conservatism, and when the German economy improved in 1924, Hitler’s National Social Workers’ Party won only 2.5 to 3 percent of the electorate in the elections of 1928.
By 1930, the Nazis captured 18 percent of the vote, and by 1932, the Nazis became the strongest political party with over 37 percent of the vote. The Great Slump turned Hitler from a phenomenon of the political fringe into the potential, and eventually the actual, master of the country. Fascism held four major advantages for business over other regimes. First, fascism eliminated, defeated, and defended against left-wing social revolution. Second, fascism eliminated labor unions and other limitations on the rights of management to manage the workforce, and fascism authoritatively justified the totalitarian control that bosses and business executives applied to their subordinates in their own businesses. Third, fascism secured an unduly favorable solution to the Great Slump for business. In the USA, the top 5 percent of consuming units between 1929 and 1941 saw their share of total (national) income fall by 20 percent, but in Germany, the top 5 percent gained 15 percent during the comparable period. Fourth, fascism was good at dynamically modernizing industrial economies (although not as good at adventurous and long-term techno-scientific planning).
Nazi Germany, ruthlessly determined to get rid of unemployment at all costs, recovered quickly from the Great Slump. In fact, Hitler dealt with the Great Slump rapidly and more successfully than any other leader. Hitler’s success appeared to confirm the success of Mussolini’s Italy and to turn fascism into a powerful global political current. The successful policy of aggressive militarist expansionism by Italy and Germany—reinforced by that of Japan, whose economy reached almost twice its pre-slump level of production by 1939—dominated the international politics of the 1930s. Characteristics of European fascism found homegrown echoes in Japan, creating strong affinities among the dominant ideologies of Italy, Germany, and Japan. The Japanese were second to none in their conviction of racial superiority, in their need for racial purity, and in their beliefs in the military virtues of self-sacrifice, absolute obedience to orders, self-abnegation, and stoicism. The soldiers in Japan’s Imperial Army would have subscribed to the motto of Hitler’s paramilitary Schutzstaffel: “Meine Ehre ist Treue” (honor means blind subordination).
Japan was a society of rigid hierarchy, of the total dedication of the Japanese to the nation and its divine emperor, utterly rejecting the concepts of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The Japanese had the capacity to combine barbaric behavior with a sophisticated aesthetic sensibility. The Japanese had no need to import European fascism, and they had no difficulty in understanding European fascism. Yet, members of Japan’s ultra-nationalist terror groups that assassinated Japan’s insufficiently patriotic politicians, Japanese military leaders that conquered and enslaved the Koreans and the Chinese, and Japanese diplomats in Italy and Germany, campaigned for closer identification with European fascism.
T HE M ANCHURIA C RISIS AND THE A BYSSINIA C RISIS
Italian and Japanese Dissatisfaction Both Japan and Italy, though on the winning side in WWI, felt dissatisfied. Italy had come out of the war with considerable territorial gains in the Alps, on the Adriatic Sea, and in the Aegean Sea, even if not quite with all the booty promised to the state by the Allies in return for joining their side in The triumph of fascism, a counter- revolutionary, ultra-nationalist, and imperialist movement, underlined the dissatisfaction of Italians, whose imperial appetite greatly exceeded their power to satisfy it. As for Japan, its very considerable military and naval force made it into the most formidable power in the Far East, especially since Russia had withdrawn. The Washington Naval Agreement of 1922, which ended British naval supremacy by establishing a formula of 5:5:3 for the strength of the US, British, and Japanese navies respectively, recognized this.
Japan, whose industrialization was advancing at express speed—even though in absolute size the economy was still quite modest—2.5 percent of world industrial production in the late 1920s—undoubtedly felt that it deserved a rather larger slice of the Far Eastern cake than the white imperial powers granted it. Moreover, Japan was acutely conscious of the vulnerability of a country that lacked virtually all natural resources needed for a modern industrial economy, whose imports were at the mercy of disruption by foreign navies, and whose exports were at the mercy of the US market. Japan’s military pressured for the creation of a nearby land empire in China, arguing that it would shorten Japanese supply lines and thus make them less vulnerable. Japan’s capitalists sought to colonize and to industrialize Asia systematically, developing heavy industries in Korea (annexed in 1911) and, after 1931, in Manchuria and Taiwan, because resource-rich Asian colonies were sufficiently close to the geographically small and raw-material-poor homeland to serve Japanese national industrialization directly.
The Mukden Incident On 18 September 1931, junior officers of the Imperial Japanese Army conspired to dynamite Japan’s South Manchuria Railway near Mukden and to blame the attack on the Chinese as a pretext for a full-scale Japanese invasion of Manchuria. Without official authority, on 19 September 1931, the junior officers ordered an attack on the Chinese garrison of Beidaying; Japan’s government and military command approved the successful attack after the fact. J APANESE I NVASION OF M ANCHURIA (1931)
Manchukuo By February 1932, the Japanese Imperial Army had occupied all major towns and cities in the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang, and in March 1932, the Japanese government established the puppet state of Manchukuo, installing Puyi, the former emperor of China, as head of state. M ANCHUKUO : T HE N EWBORN E MPIRE (1932)
China’s Appeal to the League of Nations The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a strong protest to the Japanese government and called for the immediate stop to Japanese military operations in Manchuria. China’s central government turned to the international community for a peaceful resolution, appealing to the League of Nations. On October , the League of Nations passed a resolution mandating the withdrawal of Japanese troops to be completed by 16 November Japan, however, rejected the League’s resolution and insisted on direct negotiations with the Chinese government. Intermittent negotiations went on without much result. On 14 January 1932, a League of Nations commission, headed by Victor Bulwer-Lytton, arrived in Shanghai to investigate the situation.
occupation was an act of self- defense—although it did not accuse the Japanese of perpetrating the initial bombing of the railroad. The League ascertained that Manchukuo was the product of Japanese military aggression in China. While recognizing Japan’s legitimate concerns in Manchuria because of its economic ties there, the League refused to acknowledge Manchukuo as an independent nation. Consequently, Japan resigned from the League of Nations on 27 March M EMBERS OF THE L EAGUE ' S C OMMISSION OF I NQUIRY IN THE F AR E AST ARRIVING AT H ANKOW, C HINA (1932) On 2 October 1932, the League published the Lytton Report, rejecting the Japanese claim that the Manchurian invasion and
“S OMEBODY I S T RYING TO S POIL THE W HOLE D AM W AR ” D AVID L OW, E VENING S TANDARD (03 M ARCH 1933) “T HE L EAGUE WILL DISCUSS ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL PRESSURE.”
The League of Nations responded to Japanese defiance with moral condemnation. Britain and France were financially and militarily unprepared to go to war with Japan. Economic sanctions would have been ineffective because Japan’s main trading partner was the USA, and the USA, while not recognizing Manchukuo, interpreted the 1921 Washington Naval Conference as guaranteeing a certain “T HE D OORMAT ” D AVID L OW, E VENING S TANDARD (19 J ANUARY 1933) degree of Japanese hegemony in the Far East. Further, members of the League did not want to antagonize Japan by enacting an arms embargo. In the face of the League’s first serious challenge, it buckled and capitulated.
The Walwal Incident In 1930, Italy built a fort at the Walwal Oasis on Ethiopian territory. On 22 November 1934, a force of 1,000 Ethiopian militia requested that the Walwal garrison of 60 Dubats—white- turbaned Somali mercenaries employed by the Italian Royal Corps of Colonial Troops— withdraw to Italian Somaliland. The Ethiopians repeatedly menaced the Italian garrison with the threat of an armed attack, and the Italians sent two planes over the Ethiopian camp with some machine-gun fire. In the first week of December, a battle broke out in which the Ethiopians killed nearly all of the Italian- Somali soldiers. S ECOND I TALO – A BYSSINIAN W AR
On 6 December 1934, the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, protested Italian aggression at Walwal. Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini responded by demanding an apology (8 December) and compensation (11 December). On 3 January 1935, Ethiopia appealed to the League of Nations for arbitration of the dispute arising from the Walwal Incident, but the League’s response was inconclusive: an investigation by the League’s Arbitration Committee absolved both parties of any culpability. In February 1935, Mussolini began sending large numbers of troops to Eritrea and to Italian Somaliland, Italian colonies on Ethiopia’s northeast and southeast borders, respectively. E MPEROR H AILE S ELASSIE S PEAKING AT THE L EAGUE OF N ATIONS (7 J UNE 1936)
Ethiopia’s Appeal to the League of Nations In March, in response to the Italian military build-up, Ethiopia again appealed to the League for help, and the Italians yielded to pressure from the League to submit the dispute to arbitration but continued to mobilize its troops in the region. Ethiopia again protested the ongoing Italian mobilization. On 20 May, the League of Nations held a special session to discuss the crisis in Ethiopia but again failed to take action. “T HE J AP IN THE V ASE ” S IDNEY “G EORGE ” S TRUBE, D AILY E XPRESS (29 N OVEMBER 1935)
Britain and France were willing to sacrifice Ethiopia to keep Italy in an alliance against Germany. Therefore, they did not close the Suez Canal, under their control, to Italy. France gave Italy a free hand in dealing with Ethiopia in the Franco-Italian Agreement of 7 January 1935, and Britain allowed Italy unhindered access to eastern Africa, clearing its warships from the Mediterranean Sea. On 25 July, Britain imposed an embargo on arms sales both to Italy and to Ethiopia, harming the weaker Ethiopia more than the stronger Italy. On 3 October 1935, Italian armed forces invaded Ethiopia without a declaration of war, prompting Ethiopia to declare war on Italy. T HE A BYSSINIA C RISIS (22 S EPTEMBER 1960)
On 7 October 1935, the League declared Italy to be an aggressor and started the slow process of imposing sanctions on Italy. The League’s sanctions, however, did not prohibit the provision of several vital materials, such as oil. Nor did all members of the League impose the sanctions. The USA, exasperated by the League’s failure to act, actually increased its exports to Italy, while Britain and France did not take any serious action against Italy. Even Italy’s use of chemical weapons and other actions that violated international agreements did little to change the League’s passive approach to the situation. I TALIAN S OLDIERS AND M USTARD G AS B OMB ( C. 1935)
In December 1935, British Foreign Minister Samuel Hoare and French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval bypassed the League, secretly proposing to give Italy large areas of Ethiopia in exchange for ending the war and for maintaining the anti- German alliance. Mussolini agreed to the Hoare-Laval Plan, but public outrage in Britain and France, when details of the secret plan leaked, forced both Hoare and Laval to resign. Britain and France were publicly condemned for abandoning the League’s principles. P IERRE L AVAL AND B ENITO M USSOLINI (7 J ANUARY 1935)
Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler of Germany took advantage of the Abyssinian crisis to remilitarize the Rhineland, causing Britain and France to reaffirm their willingness to sacrifice Ethiopia for their anti- German alliance with Italy, allowing Mussolini to prosecute the Second Italo-Abyssinian War relatively unchallenged by the rest of Europe. On 2 May 1936, Selassie fled Ethiopia to exile, but Ethiopia never officially surrendered to Italy. Italy then merged Ethiopia with its other African colonies that became Italian East Africa. On 7 June 1936, Selassie spoke at the League of Nations in Geneva to appeal for redress, but the League took no action other than to drop the sanctions against Italy. “R ESTORATION OF C ONFIDENCE ” D AVID L OW, E VENING S TANDARD (5 J UNE 1936) D IPLOMATIC O LD G UARD : “I CAN ASSURE Y OUR M AJESTY THAT THE L EAGUE IS GOING TO DO SOMETHING JUST AS SOON AS IT CAN SECURE THE COOPERATION OF M USSOLINI.”
Italy withdrew from the League of Nations on 11 December While the League conducted worthwhile humanitarian activities in the 1920s and 1930s, it had few successes in terms of peace- keeping. The League provided a veil for ongoing British and French imperialism through its Mandates Commission, while hypocritically condemning German, Italian, and Japanese aggression. The League took no action against British and French imperialism, and it took no effective action against German, Italian, and Japanese aggression. M URAL D EPICTING H OPE AND THE O VERTHROW OF W AR (P ALAIS DES N ATIONS, G ENEVA )